I rose from my couch in response to a knock on my apartment door. The knock was fairly loud. It felt imposing. A voice carried through the heavy wooden door. “Michael, are you in there? It’s me, Robert.” He knocked once, twice, three times, but I was already at the door.
“Stop knocking, I have a doorbell,” I said and opened the door.
Robert Irvine squeezed between the door and me and stopped in the hallway to view the apartment.
“Well,” he said, “this is a cozy place.” He picked up some pebbles in a dish where I put my keys. “The decor is a little off-putting but it’s cozy nonetheless. My designers can help with that.” He looked around one more time before he felt satisfied with the color palette in my apartment.
“Let’s go see where you make your food,” he said.
Robert Irvine entered my small and sparsely furnished kitchen. His face held a look of bewilderment and astonishment.
“Are you kidding me, Michael?”
I stood behind him as he spun around to get a 360º view of the kitchen.
“There are no greaseproof walls behind your stove—” Robert Irvine stopped in mid-sentence. He was staring at my gas stove. “How long has it been since you cleaned your stove?” He pointed at it and at me.
“I’m not sure,” I said. “Since I moved in?”
Robert became upset. “How long has that been?”
I crossed my arms. “About three years ago,” I said.
“Th-three years ago?” Robert Irvine asked angrily. “How can you cook on that? That’s disgusting!”
I shrugged. “I don’t have time to–” I said, but Robert Irvine cut me off.
“Michael,” he said, “Michael, there’s no excuse for this. This is a health code violation. You have to clean this up right now.”
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m serious, I’m here to help you.”
Robert Irvine ran a finger around the stove and the counter.
“Michael!” Robert shouted.
“I’m right behind you, stop screaming,” I said.
“What is this?” He held his dirty finger to my face.
“Uh, looks like dirt.”
Robert Irvine sighed. “YES MICHAEL,” he shouted, “ON YOUR STOVE AND YOUR COUNTER.”
I jerked back as he shouted at me. “Don’t you clean your kitchen?” He demanded.
“Sometimes, when I get the chance to.”
Robert Irvine hung his head and shrieked in frustration.
“You should be shut down right now,” he shouted.
“Wait a minute Robert, this isn’t a restaurant, it’s my home,” I said, but he wasn’t listening. He had opened my refrigerator and peered into the corners and ran his finger around the edge of the shelves.
“Oh God,” he said.
“What now?” I asked.
“There are bacteria growing inside your refrigerator.” He held his finger out and he almost stabbed my face with his finger. “Look at it,” he said, shoving the bacteria-laden finger towards my face. “Would you serve your guests food with this growing in your refrigerator?”
“Uh,” I stammered. “I don’t usually cook for people. I come home late from work so…”
“You don’t deserve to be in the restaurant business, you really don’t.”
“Do you have a menu?”
“What can you make?”
“Uh, mac n’ cheese?”
“Okay, make me a mac n’ cheese, what else?”
“Get to work, I’ll be waiting.”
Confused, I got to boiling water and took out a box of mac n’ cheese and a cup of ramen. Fifteen minutes later, the two meals were set in front of Robert who was waiting in the living room where he had taken the liberty of rearranging my books.
“Is this it?” he asked.
“Isn’t this what you asked for?” I handed him a fork and he took a forkful of ramen.
“Blech. It’s all salt! Here, try it, would you serve this to your customers?” Robert
Irvine handed me the bowl of ramen.
“It’s Cup O’Noodles, it’s what I can afford.”
He tried the mac n’ cheese. “What is this? It has no taste whatsoever. It has the consistency of baby food. It just tastes like somebody opened a box of mac n’ cheese and dumped it into a pot of water.”
“Uh, Robert, that’s what it is.”
“It’s from a box.”
“Get these away from me. What on earth are you doing? Don’t you care about what you’re serving? How could you do this?”
“I’m okay with it, I mean I’m the only one–”
“You’re okay with it? Aren’t you a chef? Aren’t you proud of what you as a chef can do?”
“Actually, I’ve told you before, I’m a copywriter–”
“This is not a restaurant, this is a dump!”
“I didn’t say this is a restaurant!”
“BECAUSE IT ISN’T! How are you serving this quality of food to people?”
“Oh my God, what’s going on?”
“Listen, Michael, what’s going on is that you’re just not fit to run a food-related business.”
“Get out, right now.”
“I’m just trying to help you!” he said as I pushed him towards the front door of my apartment.
“Please, just leave. Now.”
“Okay, but remember to tune in next time on Restaurant–”
And I shut the door on him before he could finish his sentence.